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Should Community Opinion Matter to the Park City School Board?

What is the role of the Park City School Board? I hadn’t really considered the question until a Park Rag commenter mentioned the subject. Even then, I guess I thought it was one of those questions that gets brought up now and then but is more hypothetical…

until….

I received an email exchange between a citizen and a Park City School Board member about removing Reading Aides from classrooms and a petition by citizens to get those aides back in the classroom. The citizen’s email can be summarized by a closing statement, “I can tell you that everyone with whom I have spoken has already read, and heard, ‘The Narrative,’ and all are still wanting for details that justify the elimination of crucial instructors in our elementary schools.”

The school board member responded with an email that began, “Thank you for all the time you have taken on this issue. Although I understand that there are a lot of people that have signed the petition we do not make education decisions based on community opinion.

“We do not make education decisions based on community opinion”? What? The School Board is elected by the community. The School Board serves the community interest. This is like saying, “Community you are too dumb, so we make decisions for you.”

As the back-story to this whole issue, the school district is removing Reading Aides from elementary classrooms, (mostly) because “english as a second language” kid test scores aren’t high enough and what the district has done to date has failed (according to the district). So, they are getting rid of Reading Aides, hiring one “Interventionalist” per school, and offering All Day Kindergarten because the district “has to do something.”

As a further back-story, the problem with the district’s line of thinking is that many studies show that All Day Kindergarten’s benefit (over part day Kindergarten, which we have now) typically disappears by first or second grade. The other issue is that Kindergarten isn’t mandatory, so the very students the district thinks they are targeting may not even show up.

Alright, back to the quote… “We do not make education decisions based on community opinion.” I could see if the district had a rock solid plan, that was indisputable based on facts, yet the public was making demands that were unreasonable and idiotic, that the district may say “public, you just aren’t educated enough on this topic.”

However, that’s not the case here. The Park City School District appears to be taking a flyer on trying to “fix” low test scores in low performing groups and the public is calling them out on it. By the way, 400+ people have signed the petition to keep Reading Aides in our schools. If you assume that most people signing a school petition have kids in school, that likely represents between 10%-20% of our kids. You may dismiss 5% of the people when they say “what’s going on?”… but 10% to 20%?

So, what is the role of the Park City School Board? Should the board not make education decisions based on community opinion? The issue I have with this is that almost every decision the board makes is an educational decision. Should the board not factor in community opinion? If at some point community opinion becomes overwhelming, should they not change course?

The real answer is that the board doesn’t have to do anything. They’ve been elected and can do what they want and think is best. I don’t think the board is acting maliciously. However, they may have been backed into a corner on this one.

If the board really does feel that they don’t need to listen to the community, and that they are acting in our students’ best interest, then I guess the public’s only recourse is either voting those individuals out of office or waiting for results to see if the decisions they made worked.

What’s more concerning is that our community’s opinion doesn’t appear to count. I guess that means that we as a public should no longer show up at board meetings and express our feelings. I guess it means that parents shouldn’t share their opinions with teachers. I guess it means that the school district is above us all.

Does that feel right? I don’t think so.

Comments

20 Comments

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Steve Joyce

I think you are reading too much into a statement. We do not make decisions based on community opinion is different than we don’t listen to community opinion. It is the exact same for every elected official, local, state and national. You elect them hoping they will represent your views. However, you elected them for their good judgement. The school board does listen to the crowd but I would be disappointed if every time the crowd shouted loudly, they did whatever the screaming was in favor of. Most people in the community are making decisions without the wealth of information the school board gets to see. People also tend to take too much of a “that’s the way we have done it” view and are very reluctant to make the difficult short term sacrifices in order to accomplish long term gain.

I do think they are listening. That doesn’t mean that they will (or should) do whatever the loudest, most active people in the community shout for. Remember that when people agree with what is being done, they don’t tend to be nearly as active and outspoken.

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Parkrag

Steve

As always, thanks for thoughtful comments.

I think you make a good point. As the same time, I think of other public bodies I’ve witnessed. I’m more familiar with the Snyderville Basin Planning Commission than the Park City Planning Commission, so I’ll provide an example I could see happening in the Basin.

If a developer wanted to alter an existing agreement with the County, they’d likely go through the Planning Commission to evaluate changes to the agreement. If those changes could possibly impact residents, notices would be sent out to everyone within a certain distance from the development regarding a meeting to discuss these changes. The Planning Commission would likely provide an opportunity for public input, so they could better understand the concerns of locals. During that meeting, the commissioners would probably ask questions of the public, answer questions for the public, publicly agree with some points, and openly disagree on others. This would all be on the public record, because it was during a regularly schedule meeting.

You’re right that the Planning Commission wouldn’t just do what the public wants. However, there would likely be an open discussion in front of the public, where the public would at least feel like their opinions were considered and the public would understand why the Planning Commission ruled how they did.

A great example of that is a Public meeting the the Planning Department (Summit County) and Planning Commission had at Ecker Hill last year about the General Plan. The Planning Commission was considering adding Receiving Areas to the General Plan. This would have likely put a higher level of mixed use development within a number of neighborhoods. Jeremy Ranch residents came out to speak against this concept because currently a developer has the rights to build limited office space and small retail at the entrance to the community; however the fear was that this would enable the developer to put in a car dealership, supermarket, etc. that could change the face of the community. The Planners came out of that meeting and said, “OK, we hear you. We will put these receiving areas on hold while we get answers to questions and think about the plan a little more.” It doesn’t guarantee that receiving areas won’t someday be a part of the Snyderville Basin, but the powers that be showed that they listened that night. Also, even though there were only about 75 residents from Jeremy Ranch in attendance that night, they didn’t say, “that’s just a fraction of the 1500 people that live there… the other 1425 are probably in support of receiving areas.”

I know that the school board operates differently from other areas of government. However, I think perhaps there is something to learn from groups I have seen like the City Council, County Council, and Snyderville Basin Planning Commission (sorry I’ve not been to a city Planning Commission meeting but I assume you guys operate in a similar way).

Perhaps the school board is taking public comment into account or at least considering it (where possible) and it is happening via emails or personal meetings. I’m just not sure the public is seeing it during meetings. I think this is where some of the frustration comes from.

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Walt

I think it’s time to step up, if you want to keep putting on your citizen-journalist hat, and attend some meetings, or even (!!) interview a school board member. Repeating what is for all practical purposes gossip via social media is unbecoming of this blog.

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Parkrag

Walt

I generally appreciate your comments. Please just keep in mind that I attended more School Board Master Planning Committee meetings (i.e. on the capital needs) than anyone not on the Master Planning Committee (most meetings from January 2015 through August 2015). I watch most school board meetings via video. I record and listen to almost every interview on KPCW. So,I hope that I am somewhat informed; albeit perhaps very opinionated. When I started the Park Rag what I was really hoping for was to provide a forum for ideas that weren’t expressed in traditional media.

Yet, you have a point, I probably do need to step it up. Tomorrow I will reach out to each school board member, Dr Conley, and Dr Einhorn and request individual, in-depth interviews on video camera about the school district, Reading Aides, etc. I will ask for questions from the community and supplement those with my own.

All I ask in return, Walt, are three questions you’d like me to ask about our schools. Please email me those at and I’ll reach out to our public servants and schedule interviews.

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Walt

Sure, that would be great. I bet it would be good to get a few words with the teacher’s union rep, too. It would be nice to know what the teachers (at least in aggregate) think of this. As of now all we really have is secondhand claims about that.

Ok, 3 questions:
-How does PCSD do on reading as compared to other similar districts in UT/the US (meaning, similar demographics/income)? Has that situation recently changed for the worse (or better?) How will the program be evaluated going forward and under what circumstances will it be considered a failure/success?
-What specific, citable evidence from the literature do we have that the ELA changes will have a positive effect for students who struggle with reading? What contradictory evidence was considered (again, specific citations please).
-Does the board/union see technology being used more to assist with this type of learning? Why? And if so, where will we redirect human teacher resources in the future, or will we simply replace some humans in the classroom?

That’s really 7 questions. But I think what would be most helpful is a complete background of the situation that is perceived as problematic enough to change the existing curriculum, along with some specific info about what teachers actually think and what this will look like in 10 years.

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Erma Gerd

I believe the school board members do listen to the community’s opinions. Every time I’ve reached out to a school board member, they have taken the time to talk with me. Community members need to make sure they use the proper channels of communication. School board members cannot react to what community members post on social media, but they can react, comment, and take action on what they’re being told directly, in person or writing. For example, a petition was started in support of keeping the reading aides and was publicized on Facebook. However, as far as I know, the petition has not be presented to the school board. School board members are being told that teachers are not behind the new reading program. However, the union representatives at the school board meeting mentioned no such thing. The school board cannot take action on rumors, no matter how accurate or widespread they are. Community members need to email their school board members. Staff needs to talk to their union reps and make sure those reps talk to the school board and the superintendent. There is a process for proper communication. Facebook, NextDoor, and even the ParkRag are NOT part of the proper way of communication with the PCSD School Board.

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Parkrag

Erma-

Thanks for your comments.

What I completely agree with is that teachers need to find a way to communicate their feelings. I don’t actually know what the average teacher thinks. Maybe they think the aides are essential and maybe they think they don’t contribute much to our children’s education. I would recommend that, as you said, teachers talk to their union representatives, if they don’t feel comfortable speaking out (either way) on their own.

However, I’m not sure I agree with you that comments made on Facebook, Next Door, or the Park Rag (or the Park Record, or Instagram, or made in an aisle at Smith’s) are not the proper way to communicate with our school board.

From the day I started going to school board meetings, one of interesting distinctions between the school board and other government meetings I had witnessed was how much a school board meeting reminded me of actually being in school. It seemed like a very “Command and Control” structure. Public commenters were required to sign up on a blue sheet. Each person was given a hard stop where they couldn’t speak past three minutes. No response was given to public comment at the time (response was given days/weeks later on district website). Now, some of that has slightly changed at times… but it’s not the dialogue that you get in other public meetings. When I went to School Board Master Planning Committee meetings, committee members would often raise their hands to speak. That’s just not what happens in the real world.

Likewise, most corporations, universities, companies, etc. use social media as an important part of their customer metrics. Even one of the most hated companies in the world, Comcast, will respond to you if you tweet on Twitter. Shouldn’t the school board at least factor in what they hear on social media?

Shouldn’t an online petition at least have some merit? It’s hard to get people in Park City to do much more that recreate. To dismiss the fact that 400+ people went somewhere and expressed an opinion, and not use that information, is a complete waste.

More importantly, how do our children communicate? Social Media. I don’t say that lightly. I don’t have a personal Facebook page because I fought the concept for so long and now I just can bring myself to jump on the bandwagon 5 years too late. Yet, it really is the present and future way of communicating broad ideas. If our leaders don’t expect feedback from social media, then I don’t think they are looking at reality.

All that said, I completely agree that the school board cannot take action on rumors that they know nothing about. However, does any school board member not know there is a petition to keep Reading Aides in our schools? I would be shocked if any board member was not aware of that. Likewise, I have been sent many emails that have been sent to board members. So, I know that communication is happening, as well.

There really seems to be a backlash, from many angles, against social media on this issue. This indicates social media is abuzz with the topic. If social media is on fire, it tells me that people don’t think the traditional forms of communication are working. Maybe that’s the larger take-away. Yes, in the dark corners of the internet there are those people hiding out who don’t want to talk to people (or associate their real name with an issue) and they’ll blast away using anonymous forums… but with this issue people are using their real names and really talking through both social media and traditional methods like email.

Erma, please don’t get me wrong. I think I understand your point (and it’s valid). However, your average parent of two or three kids isn’t going to show up at dinner time, in between their kids activities, to speak at a school board public input session, on a topic like Reading Aides. The average parent is going to express their opinion where they can, when they can. If the powers that be ignore that because those comments are not in a traditional format, I think they may be missing out.

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Walt

No, social media is garbage, because it’s mostly uniformed but very opinionated people ranting. And the signal/noise ratio is awful. You can’t seriously expect the school board to spend their time reading facebook to make decisions.

Yeah, it’s tough if you’re a working parent (ok, probably not really if you live in PC, but whatever) but if you really care – you show up. Emails and FB likes have very little value, because they take very little effort.

I’ve run public meetings. If you don’t make people sign up and have hard time limits, you never finish your meetings. If you respond to every point made by every person in real time, you never finish your meetings, because there are plenty of cranks in the world who will bend everyone’s ear for hours if given the chance.

Look, if you want direct democracy, let’s do it. We’ll just vote on everything, and everyone, no matter how crazy or uniformed, will get *direct* say. If you want to elect smart, well-meaning people and at least mostly trust them, let’s do that. Letting the most vocal opponents have veto power over any change in policy is probably not the best way to run things, but hey, maybe we should just count Facebook likes and make decisions that way.

More specifically to the ELA plan – folks who oppose the changes, I’d like answers (so that I can make up *my* mind about it) to two questions:
-Is the existing ELA system working?
-If not, what alternative do you propose?

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Erma Gerd

You don’t have to leave the dinner table and go to a school board meeting to voice your concerns in an appropriate way. Instead of posting on social media, one could simply send an email. The email addresses of all school board members and district administrators are on the PCSD web site.

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Erma Gerd

According to this letter to the editor in the Park Record, the Union reps did voice their concerns. I was misinformed, so I want to correct that.
http://www.parkrecord.com/opinion/ci_29581965/letters-editor-march-2-4-2016

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Walt

Agreed. I read that comment as just saying that the school board is not in the business of simply doing whatever the folks who show up to their meetings or organize a petition want. Having been to some meetings (and a focus group) I can say definitively that the demographic whose interests are represented by the parents/public input is wealthy kids. PCSD’s current big problem is that the low-income/ESL students are just failing miserably, but those parents aren’t at meetings (I’m guessing instead many are working long hours at multiple jobs to change your oil, clean your hotel room, etc) and aren’t creating petitions on social media. But the board has to consider their needs as well.

I’m agnostic on whole reading programs/aides debate, honestly. If the aides are doing such a great job, why are the low income kids not doing better? The critics of the new program still have not answered that, or proposed anything but keeping the (failing) status quo. They might be right that it won’t work well – but without an alternative proposal, this just ends up sounding like privileged people saying that their interests trump everyone else’s.

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Parkrag

I think the question I have not heard asked is, “Are the Reading Aides REALLY only in place to help our non English-As-A-Second-Language kids?” I’ve heard multiple school-related folks state that what we are doing currently isn’t working… I assume that means for our lowest performers (test wise). How is what we are doing working for the middle 60%? Pretty well it seems.

So, what I think will be interesting is to see how this change impacts the middle… the average. Maybe the current Reading Aides only spend their time with the bottom 5% of performers — those who have little or no experience with English.

Yet, perhaps not. Perhaps they help those kids that are a little left of average, but not the bottom 5%. Perhaps they help people with issues like Dyslexia. Perhaps they help people with other issues.

I really don’t know.

However, as this change happens, I will be watching not only scores from the ESL kids (English as a second language) but also those kids in the middle.

I’d hope our district won’t be trading one group for another.

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Walt

The middle of the bell curve (which is pretty much rich kids whose parents have advanced degrees and/or successful businesses) in PC does not need special reading help. I could see this change failing to improve things for the kids who aren’t doing well, but it’s sort of a joke to think it’ll have much effect on the kids in the PC “middle”, who were all (I include myself and my children in this) born on third base, as the saying goes.

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Parkrag

Perhaps you are correct that living in Park city directly correlates with our childrens’ success. Yet, there are many of us who live here who are middle class. If I look at SAGE results, 40% of ALL students are not proficient in English. Could those students use a reading aide?

If I narrow that down to just “Caucasians” district-wide, 32% of kids are not proficient in reading. Could those kids not use a reading aide?

It will be interesting to see if that population is impacted with these changes.

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Meg Leaf

In response to Steve’s reply: ‘ Most people in the community are making decisions without the wealth of information the school board gets to see.’

School Board members are ‘directly accountable to the people.’ A community that bonds together to ask their public representatives for details and data shoring up the wholesale elimination of Reading/ESL Specialists/Aides is a community doing its due diligence. If it were simply a matter of a few whiners with no knowledge on the topic, that would be one thing. Our current predicament is something altogether different and involves an incredibly well-educated, experienced, and attentive community. Indeed, the number of community members who have educated themselves on the very topic of reading learning is outstanding.

Transparency to the public has been incomplete at best on these eliminations. Our community shares a common concern and is asking the right questions about the high number of pink slips that were doled out a couple of weeks ago. The questions would be simple to answer if the research and data were solid and well-understood by district leaders and representatives. In reality, explanations have been convoluted and in some cases contradictory. It has come to the point where public leaders are addressing questions about the job eliminations with an inadequate, prepared, and condescending paragraph.

What ever happened to the whole truth and nothing but the truth? How this issue is resolved could enlighten our community as to the culture of our entire school district, for better or for worse.

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Meg Leaf

Questions presented to the school board meeting on 2/23/16:
School Board Meeting February 23, 2016
ELA Plan and Reading Staff Eliminations Questions to the School Board
Written by many parents
Presented in part by Meg Leaf and Rachel Bodily
1. Why are we changing our curriculum, teaching new methods to our teachers, and eliminating resources for teachers and students a ll at the same time?
2. In listening to Dr. Einhorn speak about the ELA changes, it is clear that she plans to bring more technology and software programs into the schools for early learning. What programs are being adopted? Can you demonstrate how technology will be better than human interaction in our classrooms? With the new ELA plan, what percentage of time will our children be on the computer/ipad each day while at school? No matter what happens, the more human interaction with children the better.
3. Why are we decreasing Reading and ESL Specialists and Aides at a time when our student body is growing?
4. Beginning next Fall, how will struggling readers be double­ and triple­dosed with reading learning instruction, when evidence still shows they need that additional help?
5. The district has said that 10% of our elementary student population falls into Tier 3. That equates to approximately 50 children in 1­5th grades that each new Interventionist will need to work with. How will the Interventionist be able to service all these students properly and still achieve meaningful educative gains?
6. The highest performing districts in our nation report highly engaged communities that partner with their districts for the advancement of student growth and education. The implementation and communication of this ELA plan further illustrates existing dysfunction within the school district, and between district representatives and our community. You very recently informed our community that this ELA plan has been in place for at least a year and a half, yet the District’s public website was updated only t his month to reveal it and o nly after a flier was posted on a parent­run website. How do you explain this gap in communication?
7. How do you hold the public responsible for not knowing information that was never (or sparingly) shared? Communication inconsistencies have not gone unnoticed. While the ELA information on the district website states that Reading and ESL Aides and Specialists are being cut to fund staff for All Day Kindergarten, verbal and written communications have stated that these cuts are not budget related. How will communication from all representatives of the school district foster transparency, honesty, and trust with a community that wants to participate in its own education decisions?
8. The ELA plan, along with staff eliminations, was approved and implemented without the full support and involvement of our teachers. How many teachers actually helped to
develop the current plan? What input did they provide? Have they been heard? Do you believe you have the support of our teachers moving forward? Howso? How will district leaders and representatives embrace teachers of varied opinions and skill sets such that all feel embraced and encouraged? How has the supportive infrastructure been developed for the new ELA plan so that teachers enjoy working together and with the district to achieve common goals in educational excellence? Given that we are adopting an ELA model from one of the poorest scoring states in the U.S., Louisiana, has anyone looked at the correlation of employee satisfaction and student achievement levels in the highest scoring districts in the U.S.? It does not seem to be the plan or change in plan that necessarily determines a district’s success.
9. What tasks do our teachers perform in a given day, week, and month in order to successfully teach their students? How many of those tasks would teachers say are productive versus counter­productive to teaching their students? How often are substitute teachers called upon to fill in when teachers are called away for school or district meetings and functions?
10. In every job, there is the time needed to prepare for any given assignment. Given all the hats our teachers currently wear and all the tasks, old and newly added, that they must perform, will they have the time they need in their contracted hours to p repare. What time is allotted for teachers to use, as they see fit, to p repare daily, weekly, monthly? How will that change or stay the same in the new plan this Fall?
11. Learning how to read is a lengthy instructional process that can take years. It is the predecessor to all other reading accomplishments, such as ‘close’ reading comprehension. Exactly how and with whom will students in Tiers 2 and 3 be taught how to read within the 1st through 5th grades? How will foreign students be taught how to read and how to understand English in all grade levels? There are no present answers, only references to Kindergartners and a population of Hispanic 11th graders. Without losing the importance of our actions to the Kindergarten and 11th grade students, we must address all students. How will ALL students be taught?
12. Who is going to be involved in each classroom during differentiation? What is it going to look like on any given day, e.g. what will be the schedule? Who will decide which instructors will instruct in each classroom during differentiation, e.g., will the principal decide, or will off­site district hires decide, or will each teacher decide, or will each interventionist decide, or will each Professional Learning Community of each grade decide, or will some combination of these decide and if a combination, what combination? How consistent or how flexible will these decisions be on a daily and weekly basis with respect to structure and the instructors utilized? How will flexibility in teaching be accommodated?
13. WHO decides if this entire plan works and HOW will it be decided? What is the definition of success? What will be the measurement tools? Will subjective measurement be given any weight or will all measurement be in numbers and scores?
14. Will normal fluctuation between grades and classes year to year be incorporated into our scoring evaluations?
15. With m ajor differences in w hat skills are tested in each, DIBELS, SAGE, and Galileo tests and differences in h ow each of these tests is a dministered and e valuated, what methodology is being used to assemble and document data so as to draw the best, most reliable, most unbiased conclusions? What validity measures are currently in place in the areas of test administration, evaluation, documentation, and presentation? What validity measures will be adopted beginning in the Fall of 2016?
16. Kindergarteners are scoring well, according to district data, but the first and second graders are not. Some first grade classes already have a 1:20 teacher:student ratio and currently employ Reading Specialists and Aides to serve the wide variety of student reading skills. How will the ELA plan and staff eliminations support our first and second graders next year?
17. Looking at all of our elementary schools, how has the Dual Immersion (DI) Program been a factor in students learning how to read? What have been the benefits and deficits over in the implementation of DI when it comes to all students learning how to read?
18. How, exactly, are we achieving equity in education today when each elementary school serves its students in very different ways, from how classes are structured to whether or not DI has been introduced to what DI language is taught to how staff relationships are fostered to… ? The list of variables is vast if one is to evaluate equity in education (in other words, the learning opportunity every student has as compared to every other student). How will equity in education be implemented for all students, both who live now in our district and those who enter our district from other places? How will equity in education be addressed among all of our elementary schools?
19. Our district spends m ore money per student than every other in the state of Utah, yet we are cutting instructional resources, according to our district website. Given widespread support from our community and educators to turn around the recent staff eliminations, how will the district’s budget be freed up to spend money on employees w ho actually interface with and educate our students? How will the district’s budgeting decisions and line items be transparent to our community in that regard?
20. In ‘reallocating’ Reading and ESL Specialists and Aides, as the district says it will do, will all of today’s Specialists and Aides be using their education and experience in a similar capacity as they do today, using their education and experience to advance student learning?
21. Parley’s Park Elementary School recently received some of the highest reading test scores. While new ELA plan components were adopted last year for this particular elementary school, this school also maintained all of its Reading and ESL Specialists and Aides last year and even hired new, to continue facilitating learning how to read and reading comprehension among all students there. What logic is being used to justify the loss of all Reading and ESL Specialists and Aides across all four PCSD elementary schools in grades 1 through 5, even after the district’s own data show that Parley’s Park benefitted from keeping theirs?
22. Parley’s Park Elementary School currently has two ESL Aides who support 12 foreign­speaking students. They walk up and down hallways teaching social English to this group of students. They provide 30­60 minutes of one­on­one and/or small group
time with these students. Who will take over these responsibilities this Fall? How will these tasks be carried out, both short­term and long­term? How and with whom will n ew elementary school students (in all grades) who don’t speak English well or at all be served and educated? What about students who move in after kindergarten or who choose not to participate in kindergarten and simply don’t know how to read when they enter our system?
23. Why is there a major data focus on the 11th graders? It seems that there would be a lot of variables that would contribute to low scores. How does this directly translate into Aides for Kindergarten only? How has the constant movement from educational program to education program within our district and schools impacted the 11th graders who are currently being put into the spotlight as poor scorers? Have these students and families been queried to learn deeper truths? What correlational studies have been conducted to support future high schoolers in our district?
24. Is the district’s in­house­developed training for teachers going to be equivalent to a proven college or university reading endorsement, such that teachers will confidently and effectively educate all levels of learners in their classrooms?
25. There is an influx of parents seeking independent help outside of the schools because their children are struggling with reading. We, as a public school district, are responsible to have an education answer for those kids. How will our public schools become attractive inside and outside district boundaries for students who struggle with foundational educational skills? How will our public schools become attractive inside and outside district boundaries for students who are average or excel in foundational educational skills?
Retain all Reading and ESL Aides and Specialists in our elementary schools throughout all the grades until the the new ELA plan proves that 90% of students are reading on DIBELS benchmark by the end of 3rd grade. Retain these positions until the district has proven beyond the shadow of doubt to our community and stakeholders that the new ELA plan has succeeded in bringing our students to the level of education that can be tauted nationally.
We parents want to prepare for these changes and prepare our students for success. We want to be able to work with you, but we are not receiving the answers to critical questions. We look forward to more two­way communication and development in professional and respectful ways going forward.

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Walt

On #3, isn’t the student population actually shrinking? That was one of the big arguments against the bond last year – the number of students contracted slightly, for the 2015/16 school year. Hard to re-spin that now as an argument against the ELA plan, no?

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Julie Eihausen

Please contact your/any School Board member directly. I am not a member of “Next Door” and do not monitor each and every social media posting place. Contact. A. Source. We are parents of students, long term volunteers, members of a close knit community and we want what is best for all students. Please directly contact your/any School Board member. We are trying our best to be receptive but in this world of emerging blogs, etc, we simply cannot be “plugged in” to everything. Social media posts are not direct contact with anyone and it isn’t realistic to expect that posting “something, somewhere” constitutes “Contacting a School Board member or the District Superintendent”. Do people actually think that the PC School Board, Superintendent and Curriculum Director (I know, Assistant Superintendent of Learning…etc), truly are trying to and are actively working against student success? Does anyone really believe that is what any School Board member has as a goal? This has nothing to do with budgets or money – it has to do with the fact that this method has NOT been working for over a decade. It is not “working fine”. It needs to be remedied and it needs to be remedied for all students. Surely one’s personal track record should count for something. It is very disheartening to have one’s motives questioned when one has devoted over a decade to improving student excellence and success. PLEASE contact your known, active, parent representative and School Board member in a DIRECT fashion; I would hope we have earned at least that courtesy. Thank you, – Julie Eihausen
(Note: I am speaking for myself as a long term active advocate for excellence for well over a decade in PCSD).

Direct Contact For PCSD School Board Members, Superintendent and (old school title) Curriculum Director, and PCSD Communications:

SBoard President: Tania Knauer, , 435-640-1917
SBoard Vice President: JJ Ehlers, , 435-901-2903
SBoard Member: Nancy Garrison, , 435-602-9523
SBoard Member: Julie Eihausen, , 801-706-7581
SBoard Member: Phil Kaplan, , 949-279-3014
Superintendent: Ember Conley, , 435-659-7591
Asst. Superintendent of Learning (Curriculum Director): Kathy Einhorn, , 435-645-6500
Communications: Molly Miller, , 435-645-5600

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Parkrag

Hi Julie-

Thanks for the thoughtful comments. I think the whole social media thing is an important topic, so I will write on that in a separate post.

Please know, though, that I do value the time you’ve spent working with the schools. Giving 10 years to anything show a true passion for it.

Also, please know, I never question your motives. I may not agree with your opinions sometimes (and I’m sure you don’t always agree with mine), but I never question that what do is what you feel is in the best interest of our kids.

Anyhow, thanks for what you do and the time you have spent. I’ll be sure to email this to you, so you don’t have to check in with social media 😉 (just kidding)

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Meg Leaf

Julie, I agree with you. Contact the board. I, myself, have done so and at many times and in many ways politely.
I do, however, dispute the implication that social media have been used in lieu of direct contact.

All board members have been contacted directly, repeatedly, and in many forms (emails, emails with website links, emails with research included, phone calls, a 435-signature petition, public comment at board meetings, letters) about last month’s eliminations of Reading/ESL Specialists/Aides.
Many of these direct communications have been heartily dismissed (with a flair for condescension).
Just in yesterday’s board meeting you dismissed the value of the petition, again, under a false assumption that it was misleading.
I honestly don’t know why anyone on the board would deny the voices and research and concerns of ‘the many’ in favor of ‘the one or two.’ You have a community of parents, volunteers, current teachers, retired teachers, people with PhDs in education, people with Masters degrees, people with dedicated and focused training and experience under their belts, many saying together and repeatedly to you: Please keep our valued ESL/Reading Specialists/Aides for struggling students in first through fifth grades.

You turn your back on all of these people and don’t even bother to contact the teachers or union representatives yourselves as was requested directly of you? Have you seen the letter to the editor from union representatives exposing in the nicest of ways that the only source of information you have been accepting has materially misrepresented information to you?

What do you, Board, want from your community, unquestioning obeyance or help and support and healthy engagement? How do you ask us to build the tracks for partnership in excellent education when we keep laying down the rungs, giving you direct, valuable information, and you keep removing them?

With sincerity in hope that the board will turn ears to the ground and start to rebuild trust in actionable, meaningful ways.

Meg Leaf


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